It's finally happened, guys. Math is now racist.
National mathematics organizations have come out to complain that math education is “unjust and grounded in a legacy of institutional discrimination," reports Campus Reform.
In a joint statement released last year, two organizations, TODOS: Mathematics for All and the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM) said "social justice" is "a key priority in the access to, engagement with, and advancement in mathematics education for our country’s youth.”
"[A] social justice stance interrogates and challenges the roles power, privilege, and oppression play in the current unjust system of mathematics education — and in society as a whole," reads the lengthy missive.
NCSM and TODOS went on to assert that, historically, math has perpetuated "segregation and separation" since "mathematics achievement, often measured by standardized tests, has been used as a gate-keeping tool to sort and rank students by race, class, and gender starting in elementary school.”
"Citing the practice of 'tracking,'" notes Campus Reform, "in which pupils are sorted by academic ability into groups for certain classes, NCSM and TODOS argue that 'historically, mathematics and the perceived ability to learn mathematics have been used to educate children into different societal roles such as leadership/ruling class and labor/working class leading to segregation and separation.'"
The statement continues, lamenting the notion that students must "master the basics" before tackling complex problems:
In practice, children placed in “low” groups experience mathematics as an isolating act consisting of fact-driven low cognitive demand tasks and an absence of mathematics discourse opportunities. This is because of a pervasive misguided belief that students must “master the basics” (e.g., know the times tables or “basic facts”) prior to engaging with complex problems solving.
NCSM and TODOS are also deeply concerned about white teachers in classrooms comprised of mostly minority and immigrant students.
"The groups also bemoan the 'white and middle class' workforce of math teachers, fretting that it may not appropriately 'reflect' the demographics of the communities in which they teach, such as immigrant or racial minority communities," notes Campus Reform. "Social justice could be the key to solving these issues, they say, calling on math teachers to assume a 'social justice stance' that 'challenges the roles power, privilege, and oppression play in the current unjust system of mathematics.'"
Addressing the grievances listed in their statement, the organizations plan on hosting a free webinar, opening to the public a hearing called "A Call for a Collective Action to Develop Awareness: Equity and Social Justice in Mathematics Education."